In most African countries crop diversity has declined over the years, with a large segment of the population depending on a limited variety of food crops such as maize, rice and wheat. Apart from the negative effects on health due to an impoverished diet, this also makes the farming systems more vulnerable. Crop resilience suffers during severe draughts and floods, which pose an increasingly big threat due to climate change causing erratic weather patterns.
Crop diversity not only substantially enriches diets by providing vitamins, micronutrients and proteins, but has also multiple other positive effects, such as greatly improving soil health, providing improved animal feed and acting as a water retainer.
We collaborate with various research institutes who develop improved crop varieties. Some of these crops include ALVs (African Leafy Vegetables), traditional crops such as amaranth, millet, sorghum and cassava, of improved varieties adapted to certain climatic conditions for resilience. In addition, we give our farmers access to a variety of other crops such as soya, tissue-cultured improved banana varieties, Vitamin A enriched sweet potatoes, climbing beans and a variety of fruit trees and passion fruits. We also promote the use of medicinal trees and plants.
Several farmers groups have been trained in propagating a variety of crops as an income-generating activity and are instrumental in the wider distribution of crop diversity. School children are also propagating Vitamin A enriched sweet potato tubers and tissue cultured bananas of an improved variety for their parents’ farms.